Ahead of Saturday’s show at the Agora, Caamp’s Evan Westfall talks about the band’s love for Ohio

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“What initially inspired the sound of CAAMP was Ohio – all about it,” says Evan Westfall, in a recent phone interview. Westfall plays banjo, electric guitar, drums, and percussion, and provides vocal harmonies for the Ohio Folk Group who will be performing at the Agora at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Westfall knew he wanted to be a musician when he first saw School of Rock as a child. He learned his first chords with his music teacher in college, and from there he continued to challenge himself.

Westfall and singer / guitarist / drummer Taylor Meier, the founding members of CAAMP, became friends in their sophomore year at Upper Arlington High School in suburban Columbus.

The initial seeds of the band’s Lumineers-style music were planted when they bonded over the Remember the titans soundtrack in class and started going to each other’s houses to play music after school.

In 2012, the couple separated when Meier moved southeast to Athens, OH to study at Ohio University, while Westfall stayed in the Columbus area and attended community college.

For three years, they kept in touch, exchanging ideas until Westfall decided to move to Athens, so the duo could prioritize their music. Meier regularly played open mics at the popular Athens bar / restaurant Casa Neuva, and Westfall was eager to join him.

“I wasn’t really doing anything at the time. I didn’t want to go to school; I wanted to make music. So, I ended up moving there for what would have been our last year of college. And we wrote and recorded CAAMP’s debut album that year, ”says Westfall.

Westfall had listened to the folk-infused Ray LaMontagne CDs that Meier had carved for him, and he began to compose musical arrangements in this area, while Meier focused on the lyrical aspect of the band’s work.

“It was just fun for me to get out of my comfort zone and take the banjo,” says Westfall, who notes that he grew up listening to music closer to the Ramones. “I still can’t believe I’m playing the banjo; I never thought it would be a thing for me.

Meier wrote the concepts for two songs that the couple said captured the kind of storytelling they were looking for – “Vagabond,” which now has 71 million streams on Spotify, and “Ohio,” a fan-favorite who tells the story of growing up and coming of age in Ohio. The duo then built the rest of CAAMP’s self-titled debut album out of the vibe of those two tracks.

“At that point, we were kind of having fun seeing if we could do that; make a good album. And then we would play an open mic and we would get our three songs per night… We would kinda see how the crowd reacted to certain songs to decide which songs we wanted to put on the album and which songs we wanted to leave out ”, said Westfall. “We just hit the open mic loudly every week, all year. And then we trained every day. We played all of our songs. We were sitting across from each other in Taylor’s attic, smoking American spirits in his room, and drinking Coors light and it was so much fun.

When Westfall first moved to Athens in May 2015, the couple drew up a ‘contract’ and signed it. The contract stated that by the time Westfall had been in Athens for a year (May 2016) the ‘wheels would turn’ and Caamp would be on the way to becoming a band that was taken seriously, the kind that could be a one-time job. full.

“Tay[lor] and I always had confidence in what we did, ”says Westfall. “We knew it was going to work; we just didn’t know when.

The couple put on blood, sweat and tears and found themselves sticking to this pact. Since then, they have grown CAAMP.

During the lockdown, members of the now four-piece group found themselves writing and recording CAAMP’s third full album, which was yet to be released, and finally had time to focus on their projects. solo.

Westfall says it has been a very creative year for everyone and promises that CAAMP’s latest cozy cabin music will be released in 2022.

“I like to write the kind of songs that evoke those nostalgic feelings,” says Westfall. “When I hear our music, I think of Athens, and that year, at the beginning, not knowing what we were doing, but just doing it, and not caring what other people thought. So, I hope people have the same kind of feelings with our music – think about where they were when they first heard it, and where they were in their lives then, and just watch. back and have fond memories.

Now that the band is back on tour, Westfall can once again see fans connecting with the songs, which has been an invaluable experience for him. That feeling is amplified when the group plays “By and By,” the title track from their 2019 second album that captures the melancholy of overcoming life’s challenges.

Westfall notes that in the past, shows were blurry in his mind as soon as he stepped out of the backstage. Sometimes he is so focused on his work that he cannot soak up everything. On this tour, Westfall pulled out his in-ear monitor during “By and By” to give himself a moment of gratitude.

“It’s bigger than us at this point,” Westfall says. “I cry every now and then when we start to play this song and hear the crowd. It’s crazy to think that your songs can … reach so many people. It’s a pretty surreal feeling.

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